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Gentle Ambassador

Opening: Sunday 06 February, from 2-6 pm
Exhibition > 12 March 2022
Geukens & De Vil, ANTWERP


Exhibition views. Photocredits: David Samyn, 2022.

Ils dépêchent sur terre un doux ambassadeur
Un enfant sans regard qui marque son passage
En crevant tant de peaux que son joyeux message
Y gagne sa splendeur
– Jean Genet, Pompes funèbres, 1945


The title of Fabian Herkenhoener’s first solo exhibition at Geukens De Vil, presenting a series of new paintings from 2021 together with objects from 2022, is borrowed from Jean Genet’s quoted poem. It describes the struggles and desires in a state of isolation when the imaginative is the only way out and back into the world.


Herkenhoener examines that kind of potential, which includes spiritual, social, autobiographical, and psychological layers. His works are characterized by the clash of the abstract moment and the alleged concrete of language. By pouring and dragging, they emerge from a decidedly physical act, thus resulting in an imprint of their surroundings. The artist is interested in those liberating processes, determined by chance, in which unambiguous systems of reference dissolve into ambiguous visual traces and thereby inevitably telling of the presence of a subject.


The subject can especially be found in his newly produced objects: reference literature (Rainer Maria Rilke among others), artifacts, and leftover pieces from the studio enclosed in plexiglass boxes. They archive fragments of the artist's personal reality and constitute a narrative that expands and relates the paintings in the sense of an individual mythology.


In his paintings, spray-painted and seemingly fading words and phrases like Logos and The animality of a god is essential to its nature are examples for Herkenhoener’s punch lines on canvas that overlay or neighbor color fields, ultimately creating a new context. In this image-text relation, his compositions open up manifold semiotic levels of meaning—to be found in supposed opposites. Herkenhoener uses the literary to paraphrase realities so that, in an act of complicity with their own circumstances, his paintings convey a physical and mental immediacy. Where language fails, where the image fades, they become mediators and carriers of a message that lies beyond the tangible.


A gentle ambassador between what is word and what is condition.


Text: Miriam Bettin


Individual works. Photocredits: David Samyn, 2022.

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